NYPD Commissioner 'Not Hopeful' Missing Autistic Teen Will Be Found Alive
LONG ISLAND CITY — As the search for missing autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo entered its third week Friday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told a news outlet he's no longer confident the boy will be found alive.
In an interview with WABC Channel 7, Kelly said the NYPD is sadly "not hopeful that we’re going to find this young man alive."
"But we are continuing our search," he said.
The commissioner said earlier this week that police were considering scaling down their massive search efforts as there had been no "credible" sightings of Avonte since he went missing Oct. 4.
The 14-year-old from Rego Park was last seen leaving his school at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City. Since then, police, family, friends and volunteers have been scouring the city for Avonte, who is autistic and cannot speak.
On Thursday afternoon, Avonte's father told DNAinfo New York that the family remains hopeful and is continuing to focus their efforts on searching for his son.
"We're positive," Daniel Oquendo said. "We have a lot of positive people around us."
The family has been keeping post at a volunteer center set up in two tents across the street from Avonte's school, where they've been giving out fliers and coordinating search teams.
Oquendo said they've had a tremendous amount of support from volunteers but are still appealing to the public for more help.
"We need a lot of volunteers to come down, all times of the day," he said.
The family is planning a prayer service and organized search on Sunday, they said.
Avonte's older brother, Danny Oquendo, Jr., criticized Kelly's remarks in a post on social media Friday morning.
"His lack of faith in his own Police Force is very disturbing," he wrote on Tumblr. "Luckily we have the community on our side. With all of your help we WILL #findavonte."
Anyone with information on Avonte Oquendo is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES), then entering TIP577.